Useful Information

Health

There are a surprising number of pharmacies in Puerto López and a medical clinic two minutes from Clara Luna with competent doctors and blood testing available.

* There are no vaccinations required, although we recommend a current tetanus vaccination and a rabies shot- there are many street dogs here in Clara Luna and rabies shots can be hard to obtain here. Here are some recommendations.

* There are many pharmacies here in Puerto López and most people do not have a hard time finding, however we do recommend that you bring your medications with you especially if you need something specific or unusual.
Although pharmacies are plentiful here, it is not a regulated profession and it’s best to know what you need before going to the pharmacy to make a purchase.- bring a of the prescription and doctors note.

Weather

Of course we can’t make any promises about the weather during your stay here, but the temperatures in Puerto Lopez stay pretty stable 25-30°C (77-86°F).
June- October is usually cloudy with some light mist while December-May the sky is usually sunny with rain in the evenings. The transition months are a mixed bag.

Safety

Puerto López is generally a pretty safe place, however crimes of opportunity are not uncommon. Belongings need to be watched, especially on the beach, and valuables should be kept in your room if not in use. Like most places, tourists are sometimes seen as an easy target but with a little common sense it can be mostly avoided.

Female volunteers can expect to hear of whistles, hisses, and unsolicited comments or, practicing their English. This can be irritating, but overall harmless.

Packing tips

Things that you may not find here (expensive or hard to find):

  • Insect repellent
  • Sun block
  • Good underwear
  • Running shoes
  • Good batteries
  • Quality sunglasses
  • Large size clothing
  • Liquid soap
  • Quality sunglasses

Some volunteers are surprised to find that items such as cameras,

iPods, smart phones and other electronics are expensive here in Ecuador. If you plan on using these items, we suggest bringing them from home.

Voltage is 110 volts and the plugs are the same as those in U.S.A.

Suggestions:

  • If you travel on weekends etc. to the mountains it will be cooler and you may need a jacket.
  • Bring shoes or strong sandals – expect unpaved roads.
  • Bring a small bag – for weekends away.
  • Bring a swimsuit – we are a five minute walk from the beach!
  • Bring small souvenirs –some little things from your country (flag’s, badges etc.) can make great gifts for people you get to know during your stay.
  • Bring a small flashlight (torch) – power outages are not uncommon.

Communication with home

  • The volunteer house has a reasonably strong WiFi Internet connection most of the time. There are also many Internet cafés in town, which cost about $1 per hour.
  • Mobile phones cost around $25 and use a standard sim card. Overseas calls can be made from most Internet cafés, at low rates, or you can use Skype.
  • Mail services in Puerto López are not very reliable, but if your family is feeling adventurous they can send items to the Clara Luna Volunteer House (see the address in the bar below).

Time off

We are flexible regarding time off if you have friends or family coming to visit – but we expect you to respect the commitment that you have made in giving your time to volunteer. Please remember that there are no outside overnight guests permitted in the Volunteer House. Hostels are reasonably cheap and plentiful here in Puerto López.
Our Club de Niño schedule generally revolves around the school schedule here in Puerto López. The school year starts in May and lasts until the end of February or early March, depending on the grades of the students. They have two weeks off at the end of September, two weeks off during Christmas, and an extra long weekend during Carnaval.

Insurance

As an organization we do not carry any type of insurance, or public risk. It is strongly recommended that you provide your own travel insurance and to become familiar with their policies and contact procedures.

Visas

Citizens of U.S.A, Canada, most European countries, and most other countries will receive an automatic 90 day visa on arrival in Ecuador. This visa can be renewed locally for a further 90 days with the proper documentation.

You do not need to apply for a basic tourist visas in advance, with the exception of a few nationalities. To find out which countries need to apply for a visa you can look on this Ecuadorian government website. In the event you do need a visa, please be aware that the processing time on the websites can vary- apply early to avoid disappointment!

Banking

There are only national banks in Ecuador, not international banks. Puerto López only has one bank: Banco Pichincha and ATM Banco Pacifico.
Most credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, etc) and debit cards with the cirrus symbol work in the machines, but check with your bank first about fees. Local businesses generally do not take credit cards.

Language

The official language of Ecuador is Spanish. Club de Niños and work at Fundacion Jose Rivera happens in Spanish. It’s great if you have knowledge of Spanish before you come, but we have a great team of local Spanish teachers too- we strongly suggest you take Spanish classes with us!

Volunteer donations

Can I bring donations with me from home?

We rely heavily on donations, both of supplies and money. Cash donations are always appreciated and are sometimes more practical than filling your suitcase with heavy items.

Many school supplies can be purchased in Guayaquil for less than the cost of buying them at home and bringing them with you (read our current what to bring list).
There is no expectation for volunteers to do fundraising, but if you wish to we will of course appreciate it! Donations are always needed.

We ask that you don’t bring supplies or cash to distribute directly to children or members of the community. This can make it hard for other volunteers who may not have any money to spare.

How to Arrive

From Quito (approx. 11 hours, $12.00 USD)
We recommend the operator Reina del Camino. They offer two buses direct from Quito to Puerto López; 9:00h and 20:00h.
You can purchase a ticket from:
– Reina del Camino North office near Plaza Foch:
Calle 18 de septiembre y Manuel Larrea
– or from their office in Quitumbe station.

From Guayaquil (approx. 3.5 hours, $4.00 USD)
The most direct route is to buy a ticket ‘direct’ to Puerto López from Cooperativa Jipijapa Office in the Terminal Terrestre, Guayaquil.
This direct bus passes through Jipijapa and comes to Puerto López, leaving from Guayaquil at the following times:
6:45h, 7:45h, 9:45h, 11:45h, 12:45h, 13:45h, 15:45h, 17:15h

You can also arrive to Puerto López from the arguably more scenic and slightly more time consuming route of the Ruta Spondylus. In brief, you can take a bus from Guayaquil to Santa Elena, and then from Santa Elena to Puerto López, but there are many variations and varying time schedules.
Once you arrive in Puerto López, you need to take a $0.50 mototaxi to Clara Luna.
We are located in the North part of town in Barrio Miraflores, on the main highway right before the bridge. We are the large 3 storey orange/pink house on the right hand side of the street, diagonal from the driving school.

Most of the mototaxis know where we are, but here are the directions in Spanish too:
“Clara Luna. La casa naranja antes del puente, diagonal del Sindicato de Choferes.”

Remember to us know what time you are arriving so someone can welcome you at the volunteer house!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Are sheets and pillows provided?
Yes, a simple sheet set an pillow will be provided to you on your arrival. Save some space in your bag and leave your sheets and pillows at home!

Are towels provided?
No, we aren’t able to provide everyone with a towel. And we might even suggest bringing two: one for the beach and one for a shower (depending on the space in your bag…)

Do I need a mosquito net?
We do have some mosquito nets here at Clara Luna, but they are mostly for comfort rather than safety. The mosquitos can be bothersome, especially when the temperature changes, but there have been very few cases of Dengue Fever in Puerto López and no confirmed cases of Malaria. That being said, bug spray is a worthwhile investment for your sanity.

Can I drink the water?
Tap water here is not advisable to drink. Clara Luna has drinking water for volunteers and bottled water is readily available for purchase at any corner store.

Is food included?
Meals are only included in the home stay option of accommodations. In the volunteer house there is a shared kitchen with a stove, a refrigerator, a microwave, a simple panini maker, a blender and the required kitchen utensils. We are a short distance from the market and, in our experience, the volunteers love to cook together!
Can my family send me a package via mail?
As mentioned above, the postal service in Ecuador is not very speedy and reliable. It is very normal for normal mail to take 3 weeks or more to arrive. If your family is feeling adventurous, they are more than welcome to send mail to the address indicated on the bar below!